Shirley Fire, smaller fires result of lightning in Sequoia National Forest

Shirley Fire burnign 500 acres

SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. - Twelve lightning caused fires have been discovered burning in the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument as of 1 p.m. Monday, according to Denise Alonzo of Forest Public Affairs.

Shirley Fire

The largest, located in the Kern River Ranger District is the Shirley Fire, near the Shirley Meadows Ski area, officials said.

This fire has grown to 500 acres according to firefighters of the Kern County Fire Department.

The fire is threatening the city of Alta Sierra. Road closures soon in effect are Alder Creek Road and Campground, Rancheria Road (between Highway 178 and Highway 155), Evans Flat Campground, and Oak Flat Lookout.

Air tankers, helicopters and handcrews are suppressing the fire in brush and timber. This fire burned actively through the night experiencing downhill/downslope burning, torching trees and, at times, experiencing 50 MPH winds, according to InciWeb.

According to Corey Wilford with the Kern County Fire Department, the lack of fire crews and steep terrain is making the Shirley fire hard to find.

"You can see that up and down the state we're running the same situation, a lot of fires are going on and a lot of resources are out. So, we're trying to piece together resources as we can, as they come in," Wilford said.

Although the fire evacuation are only voluntary for area homes, campers enjoying the first weekend of hunting were made to leave for their safety. 

"With maybe an hour of us being at camp we started packing up and a sheriff pulled up and told us we needed to evacuate," said Rachel Rodriguez, who had been camping in the area since Wednesday.

Read about the evacuations here: http://bit.ly/1d0Z1aQ

Tenant Fire

The Tenant Fire, near Tenant Springs on the Kern River Ranger District has grown to approximately 200 acres and is burning through grass and brush towards Oak Flat Lookout.

Smaller fires

Additional fires discovered on the Kern River Ranger District are Badger, burning near the Tenant Fire, Cow Fire burning in Cow Creek, and the Lucas Fire. The Badger, Cow, and Lucas Fires are all less than 1 acre in size.

Above Springville, lightning strikes started five new fires on the Western Divide Ranger District, Giant Sequoia National Monument. The Blue fire, located near Blue Ridge Lookout has been lined and is being extinguished. Firefighters are working to put fire line around the Pack and Windy Fires near the Pack Saddle Grove.

Smokejumpers assigned to the Porterville Air Attack base jumped into two small fires located on Black Mountain. Both the Creek and Black fires were single trees struck by lightning with small ground fires underneath them. Firefighters are currently assigned to each fire and are working to put them out.

Two lightning caused fires were discovered burning on the Hume Lake Ranger District, one in the Monarch Wilderness. As firefighters become available they will be moved around to put out these two fires and any others that are discovered.

Storms continue to pass through the southern Sierra Mountains and bring the threat of lightning, erratic winds, and more fires.

Lightning caused fires can go undetected for days or weeks until forest materials dry enough to allow flames to spread to the surface.

Visitors are asked to call ahead to check on conditions and obtain weather forecasts prior to travel in the mountains.

Please contact the Kern River Ranger District (760) 376-378, the Western Divide Ranger District (559) 539-2607 or the Hume Lake Ranger District (559) 338-2251 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 

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